When Randy Hafer set out to design a new office space for his architecture firm, High Plains Architects, winning the 2009 AIA Seattle COTE What Makes It Green? Award was the last thing he had on his mind. As an architect who is concerned about sustainability, he simply wanted to have an office space that "walked the talk" and showed his clients that green building was possible.
Hafer, one of the first recipients of the Montana BetterBricks Award (2009), brought IDL - Bozeman on board to assist with the daylighting and electric lighting design of his office building, a single-story historic building remodelin Billings, Montana, renamed the Klos Building. Hafer was familiar with the Integrated Design Lab Network already, having worked with IDL - Seattle on a previous project, Home on the Range.
IDL - Bozeman analyzed a few daylighting and electric lighting options using the lighting analysis program, AGI-32, for the Klos Building. The most prominent feature of the design is a large monitor in the center of the office space, oriented appropriately along a direct east-west axis (defying the Billings city grid and the building itself) that permits daylight to enter through north-facing glazing. Photovoltaic panels are mounted on the south side of the monitor, and are only one of the many other sustainable strategies that Hafer's team incorporated into the design.
Through the analysis of the daylight monitor and the windows, IDL - Bozeman discovered that while the majority of the design allowed for adequate illumination throughout the day, the sunlight entering through the west window and parking lot entrance would cause severe glare problems for the office space in the afternoons. A simple recommendation of an overhang was made - one that Hafer and his team incorporated into their design.
Overall Hafer is pleased with the lighting in the building. He explained that they rarely, if ever, turn on the lights. When they do, they never need more than one lamp per fixture on, which is possible through the stepped switching of their two-lamp fixtures. He and his staff have become so accustomed to the natural light that they are considering installing solar tubes in the restrooms in order to avoid turning on the fluorescent lights. Hafer attributes this successful lighting scheme in part to working with the lab. He said in a recent communication: "The lighting study your lab did was invaluable to us and we incorporated the results into our final design."
Hafer feels that the design is a success, and it should be; High Plains Architects is anticipating receiving a LEED Platinum certification by the end of June. Curiously enough, another Hafer design (Home on the Range) was the first building in Montana to be awarded LEED Platinum certification and it also received an AIA Seattle COTE What Makes it Green? Award in 2008.
Hafer and his firm are challenging the ways in which architects in Montana think about design and construction. While some might find it very difficult to incorporate energy efficient design strategies and keep costs low, Hafer and his design staff believe that "it's easy" and they are proving that time and again through their designs.
When asked what he would say to architects who are not yet using IDL - Bozeman as a resource, Hafer was shocked to discover that few architects were taking advantage of lab services. He feels that the assistance of the lab helped make their project a 100% success and will continue working with IDL - Bozeman in the future.
To see the boards that High Plains Architects submitted for the 2009 AIA Seattle COTE What Makes It Green? Awards, click here, and be sure to check out page 12 to see images from the IDL - Bozeman daylighting analysis!